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Letter: The Dogwoodization of the EcoSociety has Costs

To The Editor:

The Dogwood Initiative, like it’s sister group LeadNow, grew to substantial influence during the Harper and Clark era in large part by consolidating anti-pipeline activism into a political and fundraising force. 
 
After both the Keystone and Northern Gateway appeared to be down for the count, campaigners on both sides of the border shifted their focus from “no pipelines” to “100 percent renewables”.  The idea is that single issue, large-scale campaigns not only make it easier to market a well-packaged environmental concept, but also consolidate support networks and focus precious resources.  
 
Around this time, EcoSociety hired on an Executive Director from Dogwood, who moved the EcoSociety in this direction.  Fast forward to a few months ago, when another EcoSociety ED came on board from LeadNow, and we see the obvious influence on our little organization and the creation of its one big campaign: “100 Percent Renewable Kootenays”.

It is not hard to show how this approach has taken oxygen away from other efforts. In the Kootenays we have wildfire issues, logging  moving into drinking water basins and recycling and composting coming to the forefront of government planning (to name a few) yet little or no attention – that I’ve heard about anyway - towards any of these, not to mention the other priority areas the EcoSociety has mandated itself to focus on.

The EcoSociety continues to be unable or unwilling to run an effective recycling and composting program at its own markets.

Meanwhile, target deadlines come and go as the City of Nelson struggles to figure out how to deal with its existing plan to significantly reduce carbon emissions.  As a city with it’s own run of the river hydro power, does committing to another layer of added planning focused on shifting energy production make sense? Since any new strategy will most likely contain brand new plans and timelines, there certainly will be a tempting opportunity to deemphasize the floundering existing effort and instead move the goalposts ahead by years or decades.  It’s a common cycle in politics - out with the old failures, in with the new plans.

The EcoSociety is courting the City of Nelson (and other municipalities) in this regard, but will the partnership they want really just result in another round of strategic documents and feel-good projects that do little more than support salaries, consultant contracts, and summer student wages?   

Fair questions I hope - especially considering that most other local, pressing environment related issues continue to be left stone cold on the back burner. 

Bruce Edson, Nelson BC